Shaw Brothers Studio
The clam-shaped Shaw Brothers logo, which opened nearly every Shaw film, was modelled after that of the Warner Bros. studios.
|Headquarters||Hong Kong (main; English-Speaking)
Macau (main; Portuguese-speaking)
Kuching, Sarawak (Malaysian)
|Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Shaw Brothers Studio|
From their distribution base in Singapore where they founded parent company Shaw Organization in 1924, and as a strategic development of their movie distribution business in Southeast Asia, Sir Run Run Shaw (邵逸夫) and his brother Runme Shaw (邵仁枚) founded South Sea Film (南洋影片) in 1930. It was later renamed Shaw Brothers Studio. The studio released Hong Kong's first movie with sound 《白金龍》 (which translates as "platinum dragon", or one of the slang terms for a pistol) in 1934.
The Shaw Brothers studio is noted for directors King Hu, Lau Kar-leung and Chang Cheh. King Hu was an early director who is best remembered for his film Come Drink with Me, a martial arts film which differed from those of Chang Cheh in that it featured a capable female protagonist and revolved around romance in the martial arts world, rather than fast paced action and the tales of brotherhood which Chang Cheh would later popularize. Chang Cheh, who was more fond of the latter components, would go on to be Shaw Studios' best known director, with such films as Five Deadly Venoms, Brave Archer (based on the works of Jin Yong), The One Armed Swordsman, and other classics of Wuxia and Wushu film. Almost equally as famous was fight choreographer turned director Lau Kar-leung, who would produce such highly regarded kung fu films as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter.
Shaw Brothers was a studio which was modeled after the classic Hollywood system with hundreds of actors signed to exclusive contracts. While other studios rotated a good number of cast members, the Shaw Brothers assigned certain groups of actors to work exclusively with certain directors. The group from the 1978 release Five Deadly Venoms—who would become known by that namesake—were among the most memorable. These five were Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Sun Chien, Chiang Sheng and Kuo Chui, who had been stars in the Shaw studio for years, but did not become memorable faces until the Five Deadly Venoms. Wei Pai, who played the Snake (referred to as "Number Two" throughout the film "Five Deadly Venoms") was also part of the Venom Mob which numbered over 15 actors which appeared in almost all of the Venom movies.
In the first half of the 1970s two other stars were particularly well known and favoured by Chang Cheh in his movies: Ti Lung and David Chiang. Ti Lung is considered one of the most, if not the most handsome martial arts actor to grace Shaw Studios, but is also accredited as a capable actor who reinforced his muscular glamour with strong characterisation over his many films. Chiang on the other hand was slight and wiry and often played sarcastic anti-hero to Lung's standard archetype. In the middle of that decade the duo were overshadowed by the rise of Alexander Fu Sheng who had played supporting roles opposite them on many occasions. Fu was eventually killed in 1983 in a car accident, at age 28, ending a brief but spectacular career.
Members of the Peking Opera School, including Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung, played extras and bit parts in several Shaw Brothers films in the 1970s, although they were obviously unknowns at the time.
While the late 60s to 70s productions of the Shaw Studio headlined male martial arts actors, the 50s to early 60s productions of the studio were dominated by actresses like Li Lihua, Ivy Ling Po, Linda Lin Dai, Betty Loh Ti in dramatic and romantic features. In particular, Butterfly Lovers, a.k.a. Love Eterne, which is a tear jerker and a musical, starring Ivy Ling Po and Betty Loh Ti, is one of the highest grossing features of the Shaw studios. The success of this movie is in part due to the ingenious casting of Ivy Ling Po, who was a relatively unknown supporting actress before this feature, as the male lead. On the surface, the story of Butterfly Lovers is one of forbidden love between 2 persons of different social classes, but there is a hidden subtext of unspeakable homosexual love: the protagonists first met, became friends, and fell in love when both of them were supposed to be male students in college (In the story, the female lead disguised as a male to attend college because social mingling between the sexes was forbidden during the middle age). The casting of a female actor as the male lead in this feature makes this unspeakable homosexual subtext clear to certain members of the audience, in a socially acceptable way for the conservative mainstream audience of the early 1960s. The huge economic success was due to the emotional appeal to a large number of audience. The extent to which this feature resonates with the audience is unbelievable. Reportedly, some members of the audience in Hong Kong and Taiwan repeatedly bought tickets and watched the feature in cinema over and over again in 1962, with some watching it over 20 times, a phenomenon also reported for features such as the Titanic and Gone with the Wind in the West. From the late 60s onward, production of dramatic features was reduced in favor of martial arts features. Better known female martial arts actresses of the studio include Cheng Pei Pei, Lily Li and Tien Niu. Cheng Pei Pei in particular is relatively well known for her starring role in King Hu's Come Drink With Me, and more recently in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as Jade Fox.
Celestial Pictures acquisition and distribution 
Many Shaw Brothers classic films have become subject to bootlegging over the years due to the popularity of particular kung fu/martial arts titles. Celestial Pictures acquired rights to the studio's legacy and is releasing, on DVD, 760 out of the nearly 1,000 films with restored picture and sound quality. Many of these DVDs have come under controversy, however, for remixing audio and not including the original mono soundtracks.
Many landmarks in Hong Kong and Singapore are named especially after Sir Run Run Shaw for his generous contributions to charity and medicare. The Shaw Organisation remains a major distribution network in Singapore today.
Karmaloop TV Secures Licensing Deal with Shaw Brothers 
Karmaloop TV, the new multi-platform programming network designed to help operators "reclaim" viewership among the 18 to 34 year old demographic, has announced its first film licensing deal with Celestial Pictures. The Hong Kong based company owns, restores and licenses the world's largest collection of Chinese-made films including the Shaw Brothers library of fan favorite kung fu and action classics such as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Five Deadly Venoms and The One-Armed Swordsman.
The licensing deal with Karmaloop TV also means that kung fu and action film fans in the United States will see these films in their digitally restored versions, many of which will be premiering for the first time on U.S. television in High Definition. The licensed collection includes more than 60 of the greatest martial arts masterpieces, movies which launched the careers of stars like Jet Li, Ti Lung, David Chiang, Alexander Fu Sheng, Gordon Liu and Jimmy Wang Yu.
Shaw Studios/Shaw Villa/TV City (TVB) 
The Clearwater Bay studio site at Clearwater Bay Road and Ngan Ying Road is the former home of Shaw Brothers studios (built 1960-1961), as well as vacated TVB Headquarters and studios (1986–2003 and now at TVB City) and Celestial Pictures. There are also apartment blocks formerly used to house actors of Shaw. The newer Shaw House and Shaw Villa are also located here. The site has been vacant since 2003 and will likely be re-developed with no new tenants targeted.
The older Shaw House has been used for various TVB series shoots as a hospital.
See also 
- Celestial's Shaw Brothers Film Library
- Golden Harvest
- Hong Kong action cinema
- List of Shaw Brothers films
- Ocean Shore
- "Shaw Online - About Shaw - Shaw History". Shaw.sg. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- "Shaw Brothers Studios, Clearwater Bay « Hong Kong (& Macau) Stuff". Orientalsweetlips.wordpress.com. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
Further reading 
- Glaessner, Verina. Kung Fu: Cinema of Vengeance. London: Lorimer; New York: Bounty Books, 1974. ISBN 0-85647-045-7, ISBN 0-517-51831-7.
- Wong, Ain-ling. The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Film Archive, 2003. ISBN 962-8050-21-4.
- Zhong, Baoxian. "Hollywood of the East" in the Making: The Cathay Organization Vs. the Shaw Organization in Post-War Hong Kong. [Hong Kong]: Centre for China Urban and Regional Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2004. ISBN 962-8804-44-8.
- Zhong, Baoxian. Moguls of the Chinese Cinema: The Story of the Shaw Brothers in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, 1924–2002. Working paper series (David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies); no. 44. Hong Kong: David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2005.
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